West Seattle scene: Mayor’s lunchtime visit to Senior Center

April 16, 2015 at 7:49 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

Mayor Ed Murray was back in The Junction today, less than three weeks after his walking-tour/coffee-conversation stop. His stop at the Senior Center of West Seattle wasn’t an official speech/town-hall type visit, just an informal lunchtime conversation, though he took the microphone for a moment. Below, that’s center director Lyle Evans at left:

P.S. The Senior Center has a big series of classes coming up for people who might not think they are Senior Center-age yet … “Things to Know Now That You’re 50.” See the summary and sign up here.

Meet West Seattle Helpline’s new executive director Chris Langeler

April 15, 2015 at 11:41 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 5 Comments

He’s been on the job a few weeks, but in case you haven’t met him yet, West Seattle Helpline is officially announcing its new executive director, Chris Langeler:

West Seattle Helpline, a nonprofit social service agency offering emergency assistance for West Seattle residents, is pleased to welcome Chris Langeler as the new Executive Director. Mr. Langeler comes to West Seattle Helpline with years of experience in fundraising, social services, community development, management, and working with underserved individuals and families from diverse backgrounds.

Most recently, he managed the political campaigns for Washington State House of Representatives Speaker Frank Chopp and State Representative Brady Walkinshaw of Seattle during the 2014 election cycle. He is on the Board of Directors for the Delridge Neighborhood Development Association and volunteers at Southwest Youth and Family Services and at High Point Community Center.

Mr. Langeler earned his Master of Science in Community Research & Action at Vanderbilt University in 2013 and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington in 2015. Previously, he served as the Director of Research for the National Mobile Market, an organization dedicated to providing access to affordable, healthy food to food insecure neighborhoods nationwide. Prior to that, he worked in Portland, Oregon at the Boys and Girls Aid Society, a program to support youth transitioning out of the juvenile justice system.

“We are so excited to have Chris on board! With his solid experience and passion for our mission, Chris is going to have a huge impact on West Seattle families in need”, said Brooks Riendl, President of West Seattle Helpline’s Board of Directors.

Helpline’s next big event is the Taste of West Seattle, celebrating its 10th anniversary, coming up May 21st – ticket info is in our preview.

(Photo credit: WSB’s Patrick Sand)

Good luck! Local team in statewide Science Olympiad this Saturday

April 14, 2015 at 11:11 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 4 Comments

Good luck to Evergreen Science, a 15-member team of 6th-through-9th-grade-age homeschool students from West Seattle and South Seattle who are headed to a big competition this Saturday: The state-level Science Olympiad, to be held at Highline College in Des Moines. If they win, they’ll go to the National Science Olympiad, which will be held at the University of Nebraska in mid-May. Christine Ranegger e-mailed to let us know about Evergreen Science and pointed us to the official SO website for this explanation:

Science Olympiad competitions are like academic track meets, consisting of a series of 23 team events in each division (Division B is middle school; Division C is high school). Each year, a portion of the events are rotated to reflect the ever-changing nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology. By combining events from all disciplines, Science Olympiad encourages a wide cross-section of students to get involved. Emphasis is placed on active, hands-on group participation. Through Science Olympiad, students, teachers, parents, principals and business leaders bond together and work toward a shared goal.

Teamwork is a required skill in most scientific careers today, and Science Olympiad encourages group learning by designing events that forge alliances. In Elevated Bridge, an engineering whiz and a kid from wood shop can become gold medalists. Similarly, a talented builder and a student with a good science vocabulary can excel in Write It Do It, one of Science Olympiad’s most popular events.

This is the team’s third year of competition and second year making it to state, where they placed sixth last year but are hoping to win it all this time. The parent-coached team meets every Monday morning at a home in Admiral, and its subgroups have been getting together inbetween to train in their specific events; Evergreen Science also has been crowdfunding to cover expenses. They’ll know by Saturday night if those expenses will include a trip to Nebraska – Christine promises to let us know how they do!

Memorial on Wednesday for Barbara Cough Shea, 1930-2015: ‘Her generous spirit and love of fun live on’

April 12, 2015 at 7:39 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 6 Comments

Barbara Cough Shea, who lived for more than 35 years in West Seattle, will be remembered at a funeral Mass on Wednesday (April 15). Here’s the remembrance her family is sharing, telling the story of the many chapters of her life:

Barbara was born April 23, 1930, in Norridgewock, Maine, to Bernard Ezra “Bun” Cough and Helen Norton Cough. She grew up in Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine, the second oldest and fast friend of her three siblings, Sonny, Janis and Jimmy. Her entrepreneurial and ever-scheming father had the family moving frequently around the town and pitching in on various family ventures. Her mother Helen was always there for her children.

Barbara graduated Bar Harbor High School and went on to attend college in Boston, where she reveled in the excitement and freedom of the city. Back in Bar Harbor during a break from school, she caught the attention of a college boy on vacation from studies in Miami. Barbara’s father was quite impressed to learn the “boy” was Bob Greive, a Washington state senator and law student. Barbara’s father arranged for her to transfer to school in Miami to encourage the romance. Bob and Barbara were married in Miami, just weeks before her 20th birthday. He was 29.

Following his law school graduation, Barbara and Bob settled in West Seattle, where they raised their six children. Barbara and the children were fixtures in the back pew of Holy Rosary Church during Sunday Mass while Bob ushered. She earned a reputation for her grace and elegance even as she wrangled squirming toddlers. She kept up appearances at daily Mass when slacks were taboo, hiding her pant legs by rolling them up above the hem of her long coat. She was a member of the Holy Rosary School Mothers Club for 18 years.

Click to read the rest of Memorial on Wednesday for Barbara Cough Shea, 1930-2015: ‘Her generous spirit and love of fun live on’…

OPEN LETTER: A grandmother says ‘thank you,’ and wonders about safety, after 4-year-old’s Alki seawall fall

April 11, 2015 at 9:31 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 53 Comments

That’s 4-year-old Aaron, photographed before a fall off the Alki seawall left him badly hurt. His grandmother Teri has written an open letter both to say thanks to the strangers who helped, and to voice concerns about safety:

On Tuesday, April 7th, at approximately 5:30 pm, my husband David, my 4-year old grandson Aaron and I were riding bikes along the 1300 block of Alki Avenue. We were in the bike lane, with Aaron following David, and I was bringing up the rear so I could keep a watchful eye on Aaron. Part way through the ride, Aaron apparently decided he wanted to ride along the path on the other side of the sidewalk and veered off in that direction. Despite my calls for him to stop, Aaron continued on toward the path and the unprotected bulkhead. He managed to stop his bike before it went over the edge, but he went flying over the handlebars and over the edge of the bulkhead, landing face first on the boulders 6-8 feet below street level.

As I scrambled off my bike and ran, horrified, toward where I had just seen Aaron flying over the wall, passersby had already leapt into action. By the time I got to the edge, there were people down on the rocks lifting the very terrified Aaron up to safety. Others standing around also clamored to help, and one woman was an absolute angel. She sat with Aaron and kept him talking, focusing on calming him down while we waited for the 911 response team that was summoned by still others. I was in a state of shock at the time and can’t tell you enough how grateful I am to all of these people who stepped up to help us.

Fortunately, Aaron was properly outfitted with a Bern bike helmet at the time of his accident. Without it, he would not be with us today. This helmet literally saved his life. It was cracked and dented as a result of the fall, clearly showing us where significant brain damage was avoided. I am now a staunch bike-helmet advocate! I see so many children out riding bikes with helmets that are ill-fitting and barely more than a styrofoam hat in the shape of a shark, unicorn, or kitty and wonder whether one of these helmets would have stopped the significant damage that was avoided by wearing the well-fitting, hard-shell Bern helmet. Our children and grandchildren are irreplaceable, so only the best in protection is good enough for them.

Aaron spent just under 4 days at Harborview, and was helped by many fine, caring doctors and nurses both in the Emergency Room and PICU. Our eternal gratitude goes out to them as well.

At Harborview, we learned that Aaron had fractured his skull. He also had several fractures around both eye orbitals, multiple deep nose fractures, and his upper right jaw was fractured as well. Right now he is back home, and back to playing with his trains and cars, colors and crafts as he continues to heal. The doctors are waiting for the significant eye swelling to subside before they can determine whether he is in need of surgery to repair some of the fractures as there is the possibility that they may be impinging facial nerves and eye muscles. Right now we call him our little puffer fish!

Since the accident, we have heard that there have been several other incidents along the unprotected stretch that runs around Alki Avenue and drops off to large boulders. I walk that path several afternoons a week, and with the warmer weather I am seeing more and more children along the way either walking, running, or riding scooters and bikes. Knowing how the younger ones can rapidly dart away and put themselves in danger, I have to wonder what the City of Seattle can do to make this a safer place for us all. We came so close to losing a precious 4 year old that day. God forbid another child, or even an adult, is lost forever due to a slip or fall and lack of fencing along this area.

We don’t know who any of the people are who helped us on the beach last Tuesday, but we really want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to them for them being there and stepping up to help. I don’t know what we would have done without their help! We are blessed to live in a community with so many caring people.

Teri says they *do* know some of Aaron’s rescuers – the Seattle Fire Department personnel – and that they plan to visit those fire stations soon (the log from Tuesday shows units from 3 stations) to say thanks in person.

Mass, reception next Thursday for Jack Meduna, 1946-2015

April 10, 2015 at 5:17 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

Jack Meduna will be remembered with a Mass at Holy Family and reception at Forest Lawn next Thursday. Here’s the remembrance his family is sharing:

Jack Meduna, 68, of West Seattle, passed away April 2nd after fighting Lung Cancer for almost a year.

He was born in Seattle on December 18th, 1946. At a young age he attended Briscoe Boarding School for boys, then went on to graduate from O’Dea. He began pre-med at the UW but was drafted to Vietnam. Upon his return, he worked on a fishing boat in Alaska until finding his calling as a Seattle Police Officer. For 34 years, Jack absolutely loved his career with SPD and was also a Hostage Negotiator. He loved interacting with the public and all his fellow officers.

In 1986 Jack married for the second time and found the love of his life, Virgie.

They spent 23 years together, often traveling the Oregon Coast and eventually all over Europe before she passed 7 years ago. Jack is survived by his daughters Jill Casillas (husband Shane), Cami Aksdal (husband Todd) and son Clay Johnson (wife Amanda), and by his four grandchildren, Sydney Jaksich, Corbin Jaksich, Georgia Lee Aksdal, and Michael Aksdal and his sisters Vinette Tichi (husband Dennis), Roxanne Roten (partner Scott).

A mass will be held in his honor on Thursday, April 16th at 2 pm at Holy Family Church (9622 20th Ave. SW) followed by a graveside burial at Forest Lawn (6701 30th Ave. SW) with a reception to follow, also at Forest Lawn.

In honor of Jack and his love for pigs, please consider a donation to a place that meant a lot to him – Pigs Peace Sanctuary.

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

Memorial this Saturday for Michael R. Shomaker, 1958-2015

April 1, 2015 at 8:15 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 1 Comment

Services are planned this Saturday (April 4th) for Michael R. Shomaker. Here’s the remembrance his family is sharing:

Michael Robert Shomaker
January 25, 1958 ~ March 28, 2015

Beloved husband of Michelle, son of Bob and Myrna Shomaker, father of Kyle, Cody, and Sophie Shomaker, brother of Beth Torgeson (Ron) and David Shomaker (Kathy), passed away after a valiant battle with myelofibrosis (blood cancer). Eagle Scout, Sea Scout, Control Systems Engineer, smart, funny, very caring, talented up the kazoo.

There was nothing he couldn’t fix or make better.

Services Saturday 4/4 at Forest Lawn Funeral Home, West Seattle. Viewing 12:00 pm, Chapel Service 1:00 pm, graveside following.

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

Memorial for Don Smathers this Wednesday in The Junction

March 30, 2015 at 9:34 am | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 3 Comments

We promised to let you know when we heard about memorial plans for Don Smathers, whose death at age 65 was reported here one week ago. We now know the gathering will be at 5 pm this Wednesday (April 1st) at Junction Plaza Park.

Congratulations to new West Seattle Eagle Scouts Jacob Carney, Spencer Gjording, John Roach

March 29, 2015 at 8:09 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 6 Comments

Thanks to Julie Nugent-Carney for the photo and report:

On Saturday, March 21st, Troop 282 recognized Jacob Carney, John Roach, and Spencer Gjording for achieving the Boy Scouts of America’s highest award during their Eagle Court of Honor ceremony at Camp Long. Guest Speaker Joe McDermott, King County Councilmember, acknowledged their achievement and recalled his own experiences as a Boy Scout. Dow Constantine, King County Executive (and Eagle Scout), sent a congratulatory video message to the boys that was shown at the ceremony.

In addition to meeting all the requirements to achieve the Eagle Rank, the three young men led local community projects including revitalizing the community garden at Longfellow Creek near Sealth High School, restoring 150 feet of trail at Camp Schoenwald in Burien, and constructing raised garden beds for the Seattle Nativity School which was founded to help low-income, at-risk children prepare for college.

Julie shared this report on Jacob’s project (Longfellow Creek) last May.

FOUND: Teenager no longer missing

March 27, 2015 at 5:15 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

SATURDAY UPDATE: Elvis was found at a friend’s home. Thanks for being on the lookout.

EARLIER:
Click to read the rest of FOUND: Teenager no longer missing…

UPDATE: Amanda Knox’s conviction overturned by Italian court

March 27, 2015 at 2:47 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 49 Comments

2:47 PM: The Associated Press reports that the much-awaited verdict is finally in from Italy, and that the murder conviction of Amanda Knox, who grew up in West Seattle, has been overturned. We’re told paparazzi have been staked out in Arbor Heights, where much of her family lives, so you may see unusual media-type activity in the hours ahead. (Photo added – some of the photo/video turnout we saw there around 3:30 pm)

More to come.

3:04 PM: The British newspaper The Guardian is live-chronicling the verdict’s aftermath on both sides of the Atlantic and says Knox supporters are celebrating at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor), where, their reporter writes, “When news of the verdict broke, the sound of fireworks briefly echoed triumphantly over the water.” Knox has remained stateside during this legal proceeding; The Guardian says her lawyer told her about the decision, and she told him she was “very happy.” The decision also exonerated her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito in the 2007 Perugia, Italy, killing of Knox’s then-roommate Meredith Kercher.

4:46 PM: The Guardian’s ongoing live chronicle includes a statement from Knox, including: “I am tremendously relieved and grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court of Italy. The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal. And throughout this ordeal, I have received invaluable support from family, friends, and strangers. To them, I say: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your kindness has sustained me. I only wish that I could thank each and every one of you in person.” In a separate statement, her family says they are “thrilled” and “grateful” and “want to express our profound gratitude to all of those who have supported Amanda and our family.”

8:37 PM: Just before 8 pm, Knox made a short statement to the crews who had been staked out outside the Arbor Heights house. KING5.com has the video up.

Good luck to all in the State Geographic Bee today, including one more West Seattle competitor, Devin Graves

March 27, 2015 at 10:29 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

The Washington State Geographic Bee is just getting under way at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. We’ve already featured three West Seattle competitors – and just learned about one more. At right, Devin Graves of Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) was crowned EWMS champion and then, as did the other competitors in Tacoma today, scored high enough on a written exam to make the state Bee. It’s the third consecutive year that EWMS has been represented in the statewide competition. Good luck to Devin, and also to Jack Crowley from Madison Middle School (featured here March 13) and Aiden Houlette from Schmitz Park Elementary and Jean-Pierre Dufour from Westside School (WSB sponsor), both featured here Tuesday. We hope to know by late afternoon who’s advancing to the national Bee in Washington, D.C., in May!

West Seattle Veteran Center reopening in The Triangle

March 27, 2015 at 9:27 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

Just announced by American Legion Post 160 Commander Keith Hughes:

The West Seattle Veteran Center, an outreach of American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary Post 160, will reopen on Monday, March 30th.

The Center is located in the American Legion Hall at 3618 SW Alaska. Hours of operation will be:

Mondays 9 am-4 pm
Wednesdays/Thursdays 2 pm-8 pm
Fridays 9 am-4 pm
Closed Tuesdays/weekends

The West Seattle Veteran Center is an all-volunteer operation, and is here to serve all Veterans and their families, regardless of what branch of service or what time period they served.

If you are a Veteran living in the Southwest Corridor, you can help support the Center by joining American Legion Post 160. Membership is only $35 per year.

Award-winning basketball coach Sonya Elliott is leaving West Seattle High School

March 26, 2015 at 10:19 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people, WS & Sports | 2 Comments

(WSB photo from February 2015: Coach Elliott helps cut down net after Metro League title win)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

It’s the epitome of “going out on top.”

After a history-making season in which her team made it to the state tournament and won the Metro League championship, West Seattle High School girls’ basketball head coach Sonya Elliott is leaving.

Elliott, a longtime West Seattle resident, was honored as Metro League Coach of the Year twice, in 2013 as well as this year, a showstopping season that concluded March 7th (WSB coverage here) – a season that, as she remarked at the WSHS pep rally before the team’s first state game, had the whole school (and community!) cheering for girls’ basketball.

She shared the news with WSB via e-mail late last night and said her players already know: “I won’t be coaching at West Seattle next year. It was a really tough decision, because as you know there are some amazing girls on the team and we have all worked hard over the last 5 years to build the program, but it was time.”

2014-2015 was Coach Elliott’s fifth season leading the team. We first checked in with her during the first season – noting that she took over after a season in which the WSHS girls had won a total of three games, and that she brought in new initiatives including a holistic focus on academics as well as basketball fundamentals.

That first 2010 story featured an inspirational guest Elliott brought in to talk with her team; she continued that initiative up through this year, too. Elliott herself proved an inspirational figure beyond her basketball-coaching skills, with a story she turned into a book titled “Back on the Court,” telling how she came back from a life-threatening and heartbreaking tragedy.

We have a followup question out about what’s next for her, and we’re also asking WSHS what’s next for the team; we’ll add updates as we get them.

Congrats and good luck! Local students Jean-Pierre Dufour and Aiden Houlette are also State Geography Bee-bound

March 24, 2015 at 5:31 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 4 Comments

We now know at least three local students will be competing for the state Geography Bee championship this weekend:

Congratulations and good luck to Westside School (WSB sponsor) 6th grader Jean-Pierre Dufour. His dad Rene says this is Jean-Pierre’s second year in the competition! Read more about his achievement on the Westside website.

Also Bee-bound, Schmitz Park Elementary 5th-grader Aiden Houlette:

Congratulations and good luck to Aiden, who won the schoolwide competition at SP. Aiden’s mom Sarah says, “He has always had lots of questions about different regions of the world, been interested in maps, and enjoys his school’s ‘Passport’ program. For now he’s busy studying his geography books!”

Earlier, we featured Jack Crowley, a Madison student who’ll be competing at the state Geo Bee too. It’s happening this Friday (March 27th), 9 am-3 pm at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. The state champ will go to the national competition May 11-13 in Washington, D.C.

RIP, ‘familiar friend in The Junction,’ Don Smathers; memorial April 1st

March 23, 2015 at 5:31 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 52 Comments

(WSB photo, July 2012)
Sad news about someone we’ll miss seeing around The Junction. Even if you didn’t know his name, you’ve probably seen Don Smathers, shown at center in our photo from 2012, when Southwest Precinct officers helped him with one of the tasks he’s handled over the years – putting up the flags for the 4th of July. We got word today from Susan Melrose at the West Seattle Junction Association that Don has died:

Don Smathers has been a familiar friend in The Junction for many years. This morning he passed away peacefully in his home in the Campbell Building, where he had lived for 25 years. We will have a memorial in Don’s honor, but for now, we can take a moment to remember this kind soul.

We’ll let you know when that is scheduled.

ADDED SUNDAY: 5 pm Wednesday, April 1st, in Junction Plaza Park (42nd/Alaska).

APRIL 1, 12:52 PM UPDATE: Because of weather uncertainty, this will be at Easy Street Records (California/Alaska) instead.

Memorial service Friday for Jeffrey A. Hays, 1949-2015

March 22, 2015 at 11:25 am | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | Comments Off

Long-time West Seattle resident Jeff Hays will be remembered and celebrated at a service this Friday. Here’s the remembrance his family is sharing today:

Beloved husband, friend, and partner of 45 years, Jeffrey Allen Hays passed away suddenly on March 20, 2015. You know the answer to the Great Secret now, My Love. Go in Peace, taking my heart with you.

Born October 20, 1949, in Albuquerque, Jeff is survived by his wife, Janet, a West Seattle native; his brother and sister-in-law, Jonathan and Jenny Hays of Henderson, Nevada; five nieces, two nephews, two grandnieces, two grandnephews, and friends too numerous to count – we all love and miss you, Jeff.

Memorial Service takes place on Friday, March 27, 2015, from 1-4 p.m. at Forest Lawn Cemetery and Funeral Home, 6701 30th Avenue SW. All are welcome who knew and appreciated this wry, suave, romantic gentleman. He could dance, too!

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

Memorial on Monday for Roger Osman Loken, 1920-2015

March 21, 2015 at 11:34 am | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 1 Comment

Memorial services are planned on Monday for Roger O. Loken, a U.S. Army veteran whose long and storied life also included careers in teaching and real estate. Here’s the remembrance his family is sharing:

It is with deep sadness that we announce our dad, Roger Osman Loken, passed away on March 15, 2015 at the age of 94. He was born on November 26, 1920, in Seattle to Gilbert and Maud Loken. He grew up in Ballard, where he met his wife of 69 years at a dancing school. He graduated from Ballard High School in 1939 and shortly thereafter enlisted in the Army at the age of 18, serving as a First Lieutenant in WWII in the Army Signal Corps in North Africa and Italy.

In 1948 Roger graduated from the University of WA with a BS in Zoology and earned his degree in teaching. He was awarded a full scholarship to Oregon State University, earning a Masters Degree in Biology in 1962; he learned to write and speak German in order to research his thesis on tardigrades.

His teaching career began in 1949 at Kettle Falls High School, where he taught science and was Principal until 1954. For over 60 years, his beloved Kettle Falls students kept in touch with him through annual reunions and correspondence. After leaving Kettle Falls, he returned to his native Seattle, where he taught science at Denny Middle School from 1954-1957. He finished his teaching career at West Seattle High School from 1957-1967 where he taught Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

Click to read the rest of Memorial on Monday for Roger Osman Loken, 1920-2015…

West Seattle St. Patrick’s Day celebrations: Pipes and drums at Alki Elementary, and …

March 17, 2015 at 11:43 am | In Holidays, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 5 Comments

11:43 PM: Thanks to Dave for sharing that video of the King County Firefighters Pipes and Drums outside Alki Elementary School this morning. What else is going on around West Seattle for St. Patrick’s Day? Tipsters told us the famous “green stripe” in Admiral has been refreshed, so we’re off to check that out. Anything else? Let us know and/or send a pic – thanks!

1:52 PM: The green stripe on 41st SW, looking north from the shamrock toward its end, at SW Hill:


VIDEO: See Art Wolfe’s special West Seattle presentation

March 15, 2015 at 4:45 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people, WS culture/arts | 7 Comments

Award-winning West Seattle-based environmental/cultural photographer Art Wolfe has published more than 80 books and taken more than 2 million images in his storied career, according to his website. While he travels much of the year to seek and photograph what’s beautiful in our world, on occasion he is able to stop down for a presentation – like the one shown in these two video clips, a recent gathering with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s top supporters. While there wasn’t enough room at the venue to open this event to the public, SWSHS executive director Clay Eals explains, Wolfe agreed to allow it to be recorded on video so it could be shared, and that’s what we’re doing here. His presentation included his most famous images as well as West Seattle photos from his early days.

Wolfe is a lifelong West Seattleite; his main gallery is in Pioneer Square. And, checking his website, we note he has a presentation coming up one month from today at Benaroya Hall downtown (April 15th) – find out more here.

Congrats! Madison student Jack Crowley heads to state Geo Bee

March 13, 2015 at 6:37 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people, West Seattle schools | 1 Comment

(Photo courtesy Sam Crowley)
Congratulations to Madison Middle School seventh grader Jack Crowley, who is headed to the Washington State Geographic Bee! It’s the geography version of a spelling bee, and Jack’s trip is hard-won, after months of competition at school, according to his mom Sam Crowley. The state-level competition happens two weeks from today (Friday, March 27) at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. Competitors are in grades four through eight; each state and U.S. territory will send its winner to the national competition in May at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C. Good luck, Jack!

MISSING PERSON: Search for Mark Sponseller

March 12, 2015 at 10:04 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 3 Comments

FRIDAY UPDATE: Mr. Sponseller’s family says he has been found, deceased.

Click to read the rest of MISSING PERSON: Search for Mark Sponseller…

VIDEO: Mayor Murray Q/A at 34th District Democrats’ meeting

March 11, 2015 at 11:21 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | Comments Off

Big attention for West Seattle tonight from city leaders – while Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole answered questions in The Junction, Mayor Ed Murray answered a few in Fauntleroy. He was a semi-late addition to the 34th District Democrats‘ agenda, with growth, development, homelessness, and even architecture among the topics on which he was questioned in his 13-minute appearance – all on video above. Homelessness, Murray pointed out, is a national crisis, and Seattle can’t solve it alone – state and federal assistance is necessary. He opened with what sounded a bit like a campaign speech, quick hits on points such as the increase in the city’s minimum wage on April 1st (this city page explains who goes to $10 and who goes to $11 then).

Also there, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen:

He brought up city leaders’ concern about a bill moving through the Legislature, asking people to pressure state legislators not to approve two bills that would change the rules for payday loans. While the 34th District’s legislators are solidly against it – State Sen. Sharon Nelson led the charge to tighten payday-loan rules in 2009 – that’s not a universal position for the party in this area, he said.

Next month’s highlight: A full candidate forum for the District 1 City Council race.

Services Thursday in memory of Dr. J. Robert Long, 1923-2015

March 8, 2015 at 6:34 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 4 Comments

Family and friends will gather in West Seattle on Thursday to remember Dr. J. Robert Long. Here is the remembrance his family is sharing:

Beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather Dr. J. Robert Long, born May 19, 1923, peacefully passed away in Seattle March 6, 2015.

He obtained his Doctorate of Education from the University of Washington. He was a life-long educator/administrator at West Seattle High School, Seattle University, University of Washington, and Shoreline Community College. He was dedicated to always being available to serve students.

He was a World War II Veteran, serving in the South Pacific. As a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, he led the meteorology unit in Okinawa.

He is survived by his loving wife of 67 years, Mercedes Long; his four children: Kathie Salonen (Bob), Bob Long, Sherrie Williams (John); and Kristie Farnworth (Steve). He is also survived by 8 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.

He will be deeply missed by all who knew him for his positive outlook. He always had a smile on his face and a joke on his lips. Above all else his primary dedication was to his family.

Services will be held at Forest Lawn Funeral Home on Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 2 pm, 6701 30th Ave. SW. Graveside services to follow. Reception to follow at Boulevard Park Place, 2825 S 125th St.

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

Memorial, reception this Sunday for Bob Dowding, 1947-2015

March 6, 2015 at 1:14 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 7 Comments

A bittersweet week for the Seattle Lutheran High School community – cheering its basketball team in the state tournament, while mourning longtime athletic director and teacher Bob Dowding. The service and reception to celebrate his life are set for this Sunday afternoon. Here’s the remembrance his loved ones are sharing with the community:

Robert (Bob) Earl Dowding went to his Heavenly home on February 24, 2015, after valiantly battling cancer.

He was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, March 31, 1947, to Gerald and Eva (Rockenbach) Dowding. He attended country schools through 6th grade, after which he attended Palmyra, Nebraska, public schools. He graduated from Palmyra High School where he was active in football, basketball, track, chorus and class plays. Bob attended Sunday School and was confirmed at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Eagle, Nebraska. He attended Concordia Teachers’ College, Seward, Nebraska, where he majored in secondary education and played football.

After graduating from college, Bob taught 24 years in Southern California, 21 of those years at Orange Lutheran High School, Orange, California. He was one of the original five founding staff members. He served as Athletic Director/teacher and in the beginning set up and coached all-new sports programs. Bob then worked for 20 years at Seattle Lutheran High School as Athletic Director/teacher.

Click to read the rest of Memorial, reception this Sunday for Bob Dowding, 1947-2015…

Meet West Seattleite Erden Eruç, whose trip around the globe made history, Thursday at Emerald Water Anglers

March 3, 2015 at 12:01 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 4 Comments

(Photos courtesy Around-N-Over: Above, Erden’s arrival in Louisiana during circumnavigation)
Did you know that Erden Eruç is one of your neighbors here in West Seattle?

He’s in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first person to complete a solo human-powered circumnavigation of the planet. He did it without much fanfare, but fanfare wasn’t the point – read about it here.

That would be the achievement of a lifetime, to say the least, for just about anyone. But it’s one of many for Erden: Among other things, he’s also the first person to have rowed the three major oceans (including 5,465 nautical miles across the Atlantic).

If you haven’t met him yet – or even if you have! – you’ll want to be at Emerald Water Anglers (WSB sponsor) in The Junction this Thursday night, 7-9, to see and hear from him and find out what he’s planning next. He’s not just resting on his achievements; he leads the nonprofit Around-N-Over, which supports his goal of educating and inspiring people, especially students, who he often tells: “When we dream big and choose to embark on a larger-than-life journey, success depends on taking a few big steps which are noteworthy in their own right or many small steps at a rapid pace.”

Erden has been a West Seattleite for a year and a half, but has resided in Seattle “since 1999 except for a 1 year stint in Sydney, Australia,” he tells us. He’s getting ready for a new adventure you can read about here, but at EWA this Thursday night, he’ll focus on the human-powered circumnavigation tale, plus “footage of fish that I caught given the focus of Emerald Water Anglers’ store.” If you haven’t been to EWA yet (where the merchandise includes outdoor apparel, too, for more than fishing), it’s on the ground floor of Oregon 42, southeast corner of 42nd and Oregon.

VIDEO: Record-setting WestSide Baby Benefit Tea crowd gives big, encouraged to ‘look for the hidden need’

March 1, 2015 at 9:53 pm | In How to help, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 1 Comment

(Auction-style cards were held up at the tea to answer calls for donations)
Story by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

While a room packed with more than 630 people giving to a nonprofit is a visible sign of caring and support, the people they’re helping are too often not so easy to see. That reminder – to “look for the hidden need” — was the theme of this year’s WestSide Baby benefit tea this afternoon at the SeaTac Hilton Conference Center.

The festive and friendly event not only set an attendance record, it raised more than $300,000 (midweek update: $315,000!) – up from last year, which in turn (despite a snow-suppressed turnout) was more than the year before. The increase in donations is vital because of an increase in what WS Baby is doing already, and what more it could be doing, as the nonprofit’s leaders explained.

(Tea chair Beth Wright with WS Baby executive director Nancy Woodland)
The first speaker of the event, tea chair Beth Wright. said she is in awe of “neighbors helping neighbors” via WS Baby. When it began in the early 2000s, almost 200 children were served. This past year – more than 27,000 children. “So how do we get all of this done?” Wright answered her own question: Through donations and volunteers, comprising “an amazing network of support.” Its partners number more than 120 – social-service agencies and other organizations serving families. “In supporting WestSide Baby,” said Wright, “you are actually supporting those agencies” as well.

While WS Baby is known best for getting diapers to families who cannot afford them – executive director Nancy Woodland, who’s been with WS Baby for nine years, told the tea attendees that so many other needs exist: “Every single baby deserves to have a safe place to sleep,” for example, she said. Last year, WS Baby received 600 requests for cribs – a number roughly equal to those in attendance. But two-thirds of those requests could not be fulfilled. Here’s video of her full speech:

That can change with actions beyond attending today’s event, Woodland said: “Spread the word – host a donation drive – invite others to hear our stories – have members of the WestSide Baby board of directors come speak to your friends, or your workplace.”

WestSide Baby needs to grow, said Woodland, explaining that it hopes to move to another location in White Center, “just down the block.” And it needs a better online-ordering system. When they last increased their space in 2010, she noted, they were able to serve 26 percent more kids immediately: “More things can go in, more things can go out.” She said WS Baby is now helping 1/20th of the number of families in need, around the county, illustrating this by having a few tables of teagoers stand up – about 1/20th of those in attendance. She stressed repeatedly that those in need don’t display it – “to truly understand it, we need to look for the hidden need. … keep our eyes open so that our heart can act on this.”

Those in the room got to meet one of WestSide Baby’s clients, Karen, first via a video, then when she came up to speak.

She talked about having been homeless, and having become a mom at 16. She and her family have a home now, but she and her husband, both working full time, “live paycheck to paycheck.” She spoke of having dreams for their sons, including a 4-month-old held by Woodland as his mom spoke, with his big brother standing alongside:

An early life of financial struggles was also described by featured speaker Kathy LeMay, founder/CEO of Raising Change:

“When Nancy talks about hidden need … I spent all my time (in childhood) trying to hide how poor I was.” Her mother scraped to enable LeMay to go to college, and she talked about how surreal it seemed to have classmates asking “where do you summer?”, and talking herself out of “the Pennsylvania mill-town accent.” She also spoke of compassion – everyone is your neighbor, not just someone who lives by you – yet she is troubled to see “the shift away from compassion,” as people try to set themselves apart from those in tough times, especially those who have made mistakes, though those are the people who need it most.

LeMay lauded those on hand for “showing big business and government what it’s like to help people without judgment. … You just showed people what your character is. … We are all just trying to bring each other home.” Compassion transforms you, she said. And she lauded the attendees again, for spending a Sunday afternoon to gather in an airport hotel to give. That preceded the card-raising gift-making opportunity.

After the speeches, the event moved to raucous rounds of giving and receiving. Cards were waved as calls were made to donate certain amounts, some of which were matched; emcee Ian Lindsay thundered through what seemed like amazingly endless lists of numbers, of people choosing to give beyond what they had donated for entry to the tea, with the hundreds of donors including County Councilmember Joe McDermott:

As for receiving, first, necklaces were sold as entries in the Tombola drawing – as modeled by Josh Sutton of the West Seattle YMCA (tea sponsor and WSB sponsor), at right below with City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen:

Woodland’s children McInnis and Phineas helped with the drawings, as has become a WS Baby Tea tradition:

What they are holding in our photo are two of the famous Baby Cakes that also are available for purchase at the tea each year – created by Avalon Glassworks. The twist is that one box also included a $1,000 necklace donated by Wyatt’s Jewelers (WSB sponsor) – so purchasers are asked to wait and open theirs simultaneously to see who got the necklace.

This year, it was Aileen, who was clearly thrilled:

The tea concluded with Lindsay’s announcement of the grand total, which we recorded in this quick Instagram clip:


ALSO AT THE TEA: As seen in our video above of Nancy Woodland’s speech, two volunteers were honored with the Donna Pierce (WS Baby founder) Service AwardJerry Johnson of First Student, for making the “Stuff the Bus” diaper-drive bus happen every year (even though it’s usually his birthday weekend!):

And devoted volunteer Laurie Pinard was honored too:

SPONSORS: The local businesses and organizations backing the tea included WSB sponsors too – Ventana Construction, Jackson, Morgan, & Hunt PLLC, Budget Blinds of West Seattle, West Seattle Thriftway, WEdesign, Inc., West Seattle Design Build, and as mentioned earlier, West Seattle YMCA and Wyatt’s Jewelers; Alki Party Treasures donated part of the kids’ birthday party package that was one of the Tombola prizes. Other organizations on the long list of sponsors included the West Seattle Food Bank and White Center Food Bank; WCFB’s executive director Rick Jump posed with board member Kari Holsberry (and a “babycake”):

HOW TO HELP WESTSIDE BABY ANY TIME: Money, volunteering time, items – how to give to WS Baby is all explained online. (Speaking of online, Woodland gave the crowd a quick sneak peek of a remodeled WS Baby website, launching soon!)

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